Florence City Guide and Tourist Attractions
Florence is the destination of thousands of people any time and any season of the year. It has a population of around 365000 and is famed for its rolling hills, classic villages, and its awe-inspiring Renaissance art. History buffs, travelers, and locals alike flock this tiny city everyday for its rich culture, food, and shopping. It is also a hub of Italian fashion since the 1950s and the birthplace of world renowned brands like Gucci, Roberto Cavalli, and Ferragamo. Lastly, Florence has the greatest wines on earth.
Top Sights in Florence
There are a lot to see in this tiny city in Italy. Florence is home to a lot of museums and architecture from the Renaissance era.
The following are just some you should prioritize when traveling in Florence.
1. Il Duomo – Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
Florence’s most popular site is its Duomo (cathedral), the Cattedrale de Santa Maria del Fiore. It was constructed in 1296 and consecrated in 1436. It has the capacity of 20000 people. Its exteriors are made of marbles of varying colors – white, pink, and green and its doors are elaborately made. Religious or not, travelers flock this must-see cathedral in Florence because of Brunelleschi’s Dome which you can climb (463 steps) after paying for an admission fee.
2. Campanile – Bell Tower
Also called the bell tower, the Campanile, is in Piazza del Duomo. Visitors can buy a ticket to climb the 414 stairs for a scenic view of the cathedral and its domes and the whole Florence.
3. Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio
Out of all the squares in Florence, Piazza della Signoria is the most famous. It is a free open-air sculpture exhibit where you can see Loggia della Signoria holding some of the important statues including a replica of Michelangelo’s David. You can find the medieval Palazzo Vecchio sitting on the piazza. Go inside and you can see the public rooms which are decorated elaborately and private apartments. There are also restaurants and cafes in the area where you can eat and chill while enjoying the surroundings.
4. Galleria degli Uffizi
If you want to see the most important collection of Renaissance art then go to the Galleria degli Uffizi. It is where you can see antique sculptures, tapestries, illuminations, and paintings from the medieval age to modern times. If you are a fan of Michaelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, then make sure you pay this place a visit. Other famous works you can see here are from Raphael, Perugino, Giotto, and Botticelli. It is also the most crowded museum of all museums in Florence so it is highly recommended to buy tickets in advanced to avoid the queue. You can book tickets online too.
5. Ponte Vecchio
The Ponte Vecchio (old bridge) was built in 1345 and is Florence’s first bridge across the Arno River. It is the only surviving bridge from the medieval days because others were destroyed during the World War II. You can see shops along the street selling gold and silver jewelry while you stroll around this place in Florence.
6. The Baptistery
The Baptistery of John the Baptist is from the 11th century so it is considered as one of the oldest buildings still standing in Florence today. The exterior of this famed architectural wonder is made of green and white marble. Inside you will find a marble pavement of the zodiacs and different kinds of mosaic. You can find the Baptistery in Piazza San Giovanni, off Piazza del Duomo. It is open 12:00-7:00 everyday except holidays and 8:30-2:00 Sundays. Make sure you buy tickets in advanced.
7. Boboli Garden
If you want to get as close to nature as possible, this place is the perfect destination in Florence. Here you will find beautiful gardens, fountains, and parks. You’ll have a great view of the whole Florence when you go behind the Pitti Palace and the Forte Belvedere. This place is open daily at 8:15 except during Mondaya on a winter. There are also seasons when it is close.
8. Pitti Palace
The Pitti Palace is Florence’s largest palazzo and was once the seat of the Medici family. Here you can find eight different galleries which all feature art, costumes, and jewelry. You can also find tiny but beautiful houses and apartments. You can buy Pitti Palace tickets in advanced by going online before you fly to Florence.
9. Santa Croce
Santa Croce is located in Piazza Santa Croce and is the largest Franciscan church in the whole country. It is home to the tombs of several important Florentines such as Michelangelo and Dante. It has a vast interior which contains outstanding stained glass windows and frescoes. Aside from that, the Cappella dei Pazzi, a work of Brunelleschi can be found in Santa Croce in Florence. Admission includes the museum and tours given by volunteers when available. There are also audio tours available. This marvelous place in Florence is open from Mondays to Saturdays from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM. It is also open during Sundays from 1 PM to 5:30 PM.
Shopping in Florence
Traveling is not going to be complete without shopping. It is only natural that you would want to bring home some mementos of your wonderful experience in Florence.
The following is a list of the most important streets you can go to for when you want to shop (and window shop) in Florence.
1. Via de Tornabuoni
Via de Tornabouni is the most famous shopping street in Florence. It is the home of Salvatore Ferragamos first store. It where you can shop for a variety of apparel for men and women. Downstairs you can find a luxurious museum you can visit so you can take a look at Ferragamo’s beginnings. This street is also home to famous designers like Versace, Gucci, Emilio Pucci and Pomellato. It is considered as the most elegant street and town so expect to come across with some of fashion forward locals in Florence.
2. Via dei Calzaiuoli
Via dei Calzaiuoli is another street famed for its high-end and modern shopping stores. You can find Chanel boutiques here, Sisley stores, and a Disney store for kids. Ihis street is also the home to Furla, an Italian brand of purse. You’ll have so many choices and so many options on this side of Florence.
3. Via del Corso
Via del Corso has almost every product you would want to buy for yourself and stuffs you can bring home to your loved-ones. You can find all kinds of boutiques here, big and small, to match all kinds of budget so do not be afraid to explore while you are in this place in Florence.
You can also wander in the famous Piazza della Repubblica where you will see a large array of boutiques representing both local and international brands. If you are a female traveler in Florence and wanted to bring home something special to your man, try going to the well-known artisan boutique called Piero Puliti. They specialize in mens shirts and ties and you can expect all of their products to be made of the finest Italian materials and designed by Piero exclusively for this shop.
4. San Lorenzo Market
If you are a bargain hunter, San Lorenzo Market is your paradise in Florence. You will be able to buy so much items here, if you know where to look for them. This is another great place to go to so you can buy as many souvenirs as you can. To make the most of your budget, shop around first and compare prices between stalls. San Lorenzo market opens from 9am to 7pm from Tuesdays to Saturdays.
Churches to Visit in Florence
Whether you go to churches in your hometown or not, you won’t be able to help it when you’re in Florence. The churches and cathedrals are an experience in themselves and they are just some of the oldest and the most beautiful in the world.
The following are the churches you should pay a visit to during your trip in Florence.
1. San Marco
- San Lorenzo
- Santa Croce
- Santa Maria Novella
- Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
- San Miniato al Monte
- Santissima Annunziata (Church of the Annunciation)
- San Michele in Orto
- Santo Spirito
- Ognissanti (All Saints’ Church)
Must-See Museums in Florence
Florence has many awe-inspiring museums you won’t have enough time to go to them all while you are in Florence.
The following list is considered the best of the best not just in Florence but in the whole world.
- Galleria degli Uffizi
The Galleria degli Uffizi is one of the top attractions in all of Italy, not just in Florence. It is the worlds most famous museum for Renaissance art. As mentioned earlier, this museum is home to the most breathtaking masterpieces created by the world’s most talented art masters like Michaelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. You can also see altarpieces, tapestries, and manuscripts here. Make sure that you reserve tickets in advanced so you can save time and avoid stress. The line is expected to be long since this museum is a favorite among visitors.
- Bargello Museum
Established in 1865, the Bargello was one of the first museums in Italy and is a premier sculpture gallery. The dozens of statues and busts on display at the Bargello were sculpted by some of the most famous Renaissance artists including Michelangelo, Donatello, Verrochio, and Giambologna. Before it was a museum, the 13th century building that now houses these priceless artworks was a previous city hall and a prison facility before the ruling of the Medici family turned it into police headquarters in Florence.
3. Accademia Gallery
The Accademia is most famous for its art works by Michelangelo. One of his works which is most visited here is the huge sculpture of David which was restored in full from the years 2002 to 2004. In addition to this statue, there are also unfinished sculptures of the Four Prisoners which Michelangelo designed for the tomb of Pope Julius II that you can find here. You can also see art displays which were created during the 13th to the 16th centuries. There are also a collection of musical instruments and pieces by other Renaissance artists, including Andrea del Sarto and Giambologna that you can find here which makes this museum in Florence a must-visit place.
4. Museo dell’Opera del Duomo
The Museo dellOpera del Duomo is home to the original works and blueprints from architecture related to the Duomo Florence. This includes the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Baptistery, and the Campanile. You will also see some displays of statues and carvings including that of Lorenzo Ghibertis panels for the Baptistery doors. You will also find here exhibits of Duomo architect Brunelleschis blueprints and plans and the Renaissance-era tools which were used to build the Duomo.
5. Museo di San Marco
The Museum of San Marco Monastery features the work of Fra Angelico, an Early Renaissance monk and painter. Fra (or father) Angelico lived at San Marco, a monastery where he painted several of his best-known frescoes on walls and in its cells. You’ll be sure to enjoy as you wander in this beautiful and classic place in Florence.
Visit the Past in Florence
Travel back to the past as you visit in Florence. See art from a different perspective and make the most of your visit by going to all these places. Book your flight to one of the tiniest cities in Italy but one of the biggest in culture and beauty.
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